Tenancy plans will ‘unsettle’ communities

Community
Community

COUNCILLORS have warned proposed changes to council tenancies will create ‘unsettled communities’.

Under the system of ‘flexible tenancies’ new lets will be limited to five years – instead of for life – with the option of renewal.

A meeting of Dacorum Borough Council’s housing and community scrutiny committee was told tenants would not invest in the property if they thought they would have to move.

Stuart Parker, a co-opted member of the committee, said: “If that date is hanging over you, you will not invest in that property. Five years is not enough.”

Committee chairman Janice Marshall said: “Flexible tenancies will make communities unsettled.

“It’s a fact we should recognise. If you have a lot of flexible tenancies and quite a turnover of tenants then that unsettles the neighbourhood.”

Councillor Maureen Flint said: “The thought of flexible tenancies is a fear factor. If you have unsettlement it affects schools, community centres.

“These houses were built in little areas. They were built as communities and they have grown up as communities. If there’s a lot of movement it will change that a lot.”

Officers told the meeting they expect the ‘majority’ of tenancies to be renewed.

Julia Hedger, group manager of strategic housing, said: “This is about new tenants. We have to face the reality we are living in a different world. We don’t have enough council housing for everyone who wants it.

“Existing tenants are not affected and that’s a really strong message.”

Lifetime tenancies will still be offered to new tenants in sheltered housing.

A consultation will take place over the summer.

The changes have been prompted by the government’s Localism Act 2011.